Hikers love the great outdoors. So it should be in their interest to protect and preserve nature. Here are some simple tips on how to hike responsibly and reduce your carbon footprint.
Stay on the path
While that may sound trite, “simply staying on the trail is the easiest way of conserving nature”, says Johanna Felber, a representative of the German Alpine Association (DAV). Staying on track is crucial especially in protected areas.
Zigzagging across land disturbs animals in their natural habitat and can destroy plants growing on the ground. It also creates new trails, according to the DAV. That is problematic because the soil in the trampled areas can erode during the next big downpour and cause great damage.
Take your rubbish
Another seemingly obvious but important point applies to rubbish, and not only the one you produce yourself. Why not pick up the cereal bar wrapper lying by the side of the road instead of carelessly walking past it?
Bring a small plastic bag to store the rubbish until you come across a bin.
Those who dine in restaurants along the route help to boost the regional economy and support regional producers, Felber says. Pack all the food you take along in a lunchbox instead of buying packaged food.
No loo in sight?
When hiking in the wilderness, the nearest toilet is often kilometres away. Try not to leave any traces in case of a big emergency. Put everything in a small bag beside the rubbish bin as left behind faeces may harm the ecosystem.
You can also bury them in exceptional cases as long as you keep a distance of at least 50m from streams, rivers and lakes. Toilet paper used for wiping should be taken home in a plastic bag as they take a long time to disintegrate, similar to nappies.
Arrive by bus or train
Getting to your hiking route makes up the biggest share of your individual carbon footprint, says Felber, especially if you travel by car.
“For long distances, these cause almost four times as many emissions per capita on average as journeys by long-distance trains,” says DAV’s climate protection and sustainability expert. – dpa